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England faces rebuilding operation

Updated: 2014-04-02 08:39
By Reuters in London ( China Daily)

Netherlands adds to team's winter of discontent

Humbled 5-0 in the Ashes and overwhelmed in the one-day series in Australia, England's dismal winter ended in total ignominy when it bowed out of the World Twenty20 with an embarrassing 45-run defeat by the Netherlands on Monday.

England has lost 20 out of 25 international matches since flying into Australia in October and its new coach, due to be appointed next month, faces a huge task to restore morale and build a new team in all formats of the game.

"What a shambolic end to a shambolic performance to end a shambolic winter," former England fast bowler Jonathan Agnew told the BBC.

"English cricket is in the doldrums at the moment. That is an understatement."

Ashley Giles is the favorite to succeed Andy Flower as England head coach but since he was the man who oversaw the faltering World Twenty20 campaign in Bangladesh there must be serious doubts about his suitability for the role.

He was at a loss to explain the woeful performance against the Netherlands in which England hit only four boundaries and was bowled out for 88 chasing 134 for victory.

"I can't tell you why it happened," he said. "We prepared the same way, we asked for the same, fearless performance we have shown against Sri Lanka and South Africa. It can only come down to complacency.

"That is down to every individual. We have to leave the players in control, there were some poor decisions made, some poor shots played and we were never in the game. With all due respect to the Dutch, we are a too good a side to be losing to them.

"We just stuttered there and it was ugly and embarrassing in the end. All we can do is apologize to everyone at home."

Giles thinks he is still the right man to succeed Flower.

"I believed I was 24 hours ago," he said. "I'm not sure that one performance has changed my mind. You have bad days at the office, and I still believe I can do the job."

Whoever takes the reins must cope without batsman Kevin Pietersen and spinner Graeme Swann, two of the mainstays of a successful era for English cricket whose international careers are over.

The future of Jonathan Trott is also in doubt after the normally dependable No 3 batsman left the Ashes tour following the first test suffering from a stress-related illness.

Mental scars

Alastair Cook will continue as captain of the Test side and, if he can deal with the mental scars inflicted by the Ashes campaign, his return to form with the bat at the top of the order would be a major lift for the team.

Ian Bell has proved himself to be a high-class Test batsman and the emergence of Ben Stokes as a quality all-rounder was one of the few positives England could take from the Australia tour.

Fast bowling, long considered a strength of the team, is a major area of concern.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad are a potent opening attack, particularly in English conditions, but the back-up options look thin, with the towering trio of Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin enduring miserable trips Down Under.

Another England stalwart who was dropped during the Ashes series was wicketkeeper Matt Prior and Cook will need him to rediscover his batting form with few obvious alternatives pushing for his place in the team.

England can take encouragement from the swift revival of the Australians who were in similar turmoil before the Ashes series in England last year.

They sacked coach Mickey Arthur less than three weeks before the first Test and, although they lost the Ashes 3-0, a new management team headed by Darren Lehmann quickly galvanized Michael Clarke's side.

Inspired by a rejuvenated Mitchell Johnson, it destroyed England on home soil before winning an away Test series against top-ranked South Africa.

England must hope its new coach can have a similar impact as it tries to move on from the ultimate winter of discontent.

 England faces rebuilding operation

Netherlands bowler Mudassar Bukhari celebrates the wicket of England batsman Michael Lumb during their ICC World Twenty20 match at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Monday. The Dutch defeated England by 45 runs. Prakash SINGH / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 04/02/2014 page24)